New Directions in Kaka‘ako?

Jul 3, 2015

Credit Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

Continuing developments in Kaka‘ako remain a focus for many groups in Honolulu. One of them is the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority—which has a new slate of board members on the job for about three months. And they’re already showing they may take a different approach to certain aspects of the development.  Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more.

One of the HCDA’s new board members is Steven Scott, owner of slipper business Scott Hawaii on Kona Street in Kakaako. He joined the board because he was concerned about the impacts on smaller businesses as Kakaako transforms into a denser neighborhood of high-rise condominiums, many of them luxury buildings.  He owns his commercial property and has currently seen his property value increase… but so have his property taxes.  Scott says “We just can’t have a high-rise on every corner, we’re not New York or Chicago… we’re Honolulu.”

Scott and other new board members such as urban planner John Whalen and consultant Tom McLaughlin seem poised to perhaps put the brakes on development in contrast to the previous board which was often accused by the community of being a rubber stamp on developer’s plans.

However, these new members say that’s not the case.  McLaughlin says “It’s not the intent of the board to create an adversarial position against stakeholders.  We want everyone to get involved in the process, including developers. We are all trying to solve extremely complex problems.”

Complex problems like infrastructure, sewer capacity, how to integrate privately owned roads into the overall plan, even where and when to place more public schools in the areas.  And Kakaako isn’t the only region where the HCDA has oversite.  The board also needs to carve out time for the redevelopment of Kalaeloa and He’eia.